Some of Air Force’s primary goals have already been achieved. The Falcons, 2-10 last year, are already bowl eligible at 6-2 and are in possession of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after beating both Army and Navy.
But there’s plenty to be done in these final four games.
The Falcons sit one game behind Colorado State, Boise State and Utah State in the loss column, so they are not necessarily out of the conversation in the Mountain West Mountain Division. They already own a victory over Boise State and play Colorado State in the finale, so they could control their own destiny when it comes to establishing head-to-head tiebreakers.
“We’ve got four games left and we can make some noise in the Mountain West,” linebacker Jordan Pierce said.
But before anyone starts making any assumptions about Air Force’s next four weeks, it’s worth taking a detailed look at who it has defeated to put itself in this position. Aside from Boise State, a game in which the Falcons forced seven turnovers, it’s not an impressive group.
Nicholls State, the annual FCS cupcake, is 0-10. Georgia State is 1-8 and still doesn’t own a victory over an FBS team in its short history. The Panthers gained 62 total yards last week in a 44-0 loss to Appalachian State.
Army is 2-6 and lost to Yale.
Navy (4-5) is the only decent non-conference victory, as the Midshipmen competed into the fourth quarter against top-10 foes Ohio State and Notre Dame.
The teams Air Force toppled in going 4-0 in the nonconference have a combined five victories over FBS opponents.
Air Force's other victory came in a 35-31 shootout with New Mexico (3-5).
You can’t fault a team for defeating the opponents it is asked to play, particularly when it has already avenged three losses from a year ago. This is a turnaround no matter how you look at it. But the next four weeks will show Air Force if it has truly rebounded from a historically bad season, or if it has simply scheduled itself back to respectability.
Next game: at UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday, Mountain West Network (online)
Notable: Air Force WR Garrett Brown (hamstring) and DE Nick Fitzgerald (foot) missed practice Monday. Neither has been ruled out for Saturday. Air Force has lost two in a row to UNLV but had won five straight in the series before that. By improving its scoring defense by 17.9 points over last year, Air Force has the largest improvement in the nation (4.3 points better than runner-up UAB).
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette
Boise State scored a season-high 55 points, including 41 in the first half, and generated 637 yards of offense two weeks ago against BYU — part of a three-game offensive surge in October.
The Broncos scored 143 points to beat Nevada, Fresno State and BYU — an average of 47.7 points per game.
Quarterback Grant Hedrick threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns against BYU to extend his October hot streak. He also rushed for a touchdown and accounted for a career-high 439 yards of offense, tied for the sixth-most in a game in school history.
Hedrick, who was benched in the second half at Air Force after his fourth interception of the game, has played at an elite level since. He is 71-for-92 for 946 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions. He has rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
That’s 357 yards of total offense and three touchdowns per game and a sparkling efficiency rating of 184.31.
“It was personal to me,” Hedrick said of his turnaround. “I knew that I was capable of playing a lot better. I really wanted to come out and prove that to myself.”
The Broncos are coming off their second bye in a four-week stretch as they play New Mexico on Saturday. They will try for their first four-game win streak since the last four games of 2012.
Next game: at New Mexico, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, CBS Sports Network
Notable: Senior safety Jeremy Ioane, who has missed four of the past five games because of illness, practiced Sunday and could play this week. Boise State junior safety Darian Thompson grabbed his 12th career interception vs. BYU. That ties him for 10th in school history.
— Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
While CSU fans fret about their football team not yet getting into the top 25 in either of the major polls, coach Jim McElwain and his players are taking the slight in stride.
Colorado State is the only one-loss team in the country not in the Associated Press or Coaches top 25 polls this week.
The Rams (8-1, 4-1 Mountain West), though, are just happy to be in the conversation, McElwain said Monday.
CSU had the most points from voters in the AP media poll among teams not in the Top 25 this week with 67 — 16 behind No. 25 Wisconsin. The Rams were second among other teams receiving votes in the coaches’ poll with 81 points, one fewer than Missouri and 49 behind No. 25 West Virginia.
CSU hasn’t been ranked in either poll since the start of the 2003 season.
The College Football Playoff’s selection committee will announce its Top 25 teams for the week Tuesday evening.
“I think the big thing here is, No. 1, we’re talking about it,” McElwain said at his weekly news conference. “I think that’s kind of cool. I think the thing moving forward is one of those things that none us can control what others think or how we’re perceived and part of what we have to do every single week is come out and change the way people think.
“We’re kind of doing that, and the fact, I think, we’re on the edge is a very positive thing.”
Senior guard Mason Myers and junior safety Kevin Pierre-Louis said the Rams are too busy focusing on their next game to worry about if or where they are ranked, but Myers admitted it would be nice to get into the top 25.
“We’re just winning games, that’s our goal, that’s the only thing I’m worrying about, and I feel like that’s the only thing this team is worrying about,” Pierre-Louis said. “ I don’t care what anybody else has to say, we’re having a great season.”
Next game: vs. Hawaii, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: QB Garrett Grayson will be limited in practice this week because of a groin injury suffered in last Saturday’s win at San Jose State but is expected to play against Hawaii. WR Rashard Higgins, who leads the nation in receiving yards (1,280) and touchdown catches (13), is “doubtful” with a shoulder injury, McElwain said. CB DeAndre Elliott, a starter in six of the first eight games this season, didn’t play against San Jose State because of a hip injury. His status for this week has not yet been determined, McElwain said CSU is 8-1 for the first time since 2000, and the Rams’ seven-game winning streak is their longest since winning 10 in a row during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
— Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
Lobos quarterback Lamar Jordan has played in seven college football games, but always coming off the bench.
He’ll get start No. 1 Saturday, when New Mexico (3-5, 1-3) plays Boise State (6-2, 3-1) in Albuquerque.
Junior quarterback Cole Gautsche suffered a foot injury last week early in the Lobos’ 31-28 victory at UNLV. Gautsche likely is out for the rest of the season.
Jordan, a redshirt freshman, has played a pivotal role in all three of New Mexico’s victories this season — leading game-winning drives against New Mexico State and UNLV and rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown against UTSA. All were in relief, replacing either Gautsche or senior Clayton Mitchem, for various reasons.
Davie said on Monday he doesn’t know how Jordan will respond to being the starter and not the reliever.
“I thought, early (against UNLV, after replacing Gautsche) he was just a little bit tentative,” Davie said. “As the game went on, you could see the confidence (build).
“We’re going to find out, and he’s gonna be going against a very good team.”
A priority in UNM’s remaining four games, Davie said, is to improve the passing game. New Mexico is averaging 74.6 yards in the air and threw for only 5 yards at UNLV.
“I think we have to find some things that (Jordan) really feels comfortable with in the passing game,” he said.
Next game: vs. Boise State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, CBS Sports Network
Notable: All three of New Mexico’s victories have come on the road. The Lobos are 3-1 away from home, 0-4 at University Stadium. After Boise State, they play at Utah State and Colorado State before finishing at home against Wyoming.... Junior running back Jhurell Pressley rushed for 138 yards against UNLV. It was the 28th time during Davie’s 33-game tenure that a UNM running back or quarterback has rushed for 100 or more. ... In two previous games against New Mexico, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi has 370 yards rushing and receiving with three touchdowns.
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
The Utah State Aggies are dealing with two foes this week, Wyoming and travel weariness.
The Aggies (6-3, 3-1) didn't get home from Hawaii following their 35-14 win over the Warriors until Sunday afternoon and will leave for Laramie on Thursday.
Friday's game against the Cowboys (4-5, 2-3) is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on ESPN2.
The situation is far from ideal for the Aggies, with Wells calling the back-to-back road games one of the toughest segments he can remember.
"It's a major challenge to make the turnaround that we're going to have to make," Wells said. "Make no mistake, this is about to be a two-game tough stretch on us, especially given the circumstances right now."
The biggest concern for the Aggies is the breaking in of freshman quarterback Kent Myers, who had his first start of the season at Hawaii after the quarterbacks ahead of him — Chuckie Keeton, Darell Garretson and Craig Harrison — were all lost to season-ending injuries.
"I'd like to have another day, or day and a half, with him," Wells said of getting him prepped for Wyoming.
The Aggies pinpointed this stretch before the season started knowing it was going to be challenging.
But unexpected issues, such as their Delta flight to Hawaii being canceled, forcing the team to split into two groups and re-route through Seattle and Los Angeles then meet up in Hawaii, only made things more stressful.
The Aggies left Hawaii immediately following their game on a red-eye flight to San Francisco then chartered to Logan.
They'll also charter to Laramie, which should make the trip smoother.
However, Wells was so concerned about this part of the season he said he and the coaching staff addressed it in the summer and planned accordingly.
"Practice wise and meeting wise we have to be smart," he said. "We have to be smart in how we handle our practices and we'll leave a little later on Thursday."
Next game: at Wyoming, 6 p.m. MT Friday, ESPN2
Notable: Linebacker Nick Vigil, who missed the Hawaii game with an injured hamstring, remains listed as day-to-day. ... Myers, safety Frankie Sutera and linebacker Zach Vigil were all recognized by the College Football Performance awards for their effort in USU's 35-14 win over Hawaii.
— Lya Wodraska, The Salt Lake Tribune
First-year coach Craig Bohl said his team's 45-17 win at Fresno State was its most complete game of the season. Wyoming recorded season highs in points, yards (694) and third-down conversions (10 of 15), and the defense recorded its first two interceptions of the season — both by junior cornerback Tyran Finley.
But a bigger test awaits the Cowboys (4-5 overall, 2-3 Mountain West) when they host Utah State (6-3, 3-1) at 6 p.m. Friday. The Aggies have one of the best defenses in the conference, rank in the top three in the league in eight defensive categories and have forced the most turnovers (25).
"Their scheme is complicated and complex, but they play fast and are physical," Bohl said. "They are well coached and have the numbers to back it up. We will have to play our best game of the season to have a chance to win."
Wyoming received a boost offensively from true freshman running back Brian Hill, who made his first career start at Fresno State after injuries the previous week to the team's top two backs — junior Shaun Wick and sophomore D.J. May.
Hill set a school and conference record with 387 all-purpose yards (281 rushing, 103 receiving), which earned him the Walter Camp Foundation Offensive Player of the Week award, and also the weekly honor from the MW.
Hill ran for 121 yards in Wyoming's 45-31 loss at Colorado State on Oct. 25 after Wick left the game on the first series with a broken hand. The Cowboys have had the same starting lineup along the offensive line the last two games for the first time since the second and third weeks of the season.
However, Utah State leads the conference in rushing defense at 90 yards per game.
"They're a physical defense and I believe we turned into a physical offense through hard work and preparation," Hill said. "It should be good battle."
Next game: vs. Utah State, 6 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN2)
Notable: Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard has not thrown an interception in three consecutive games, and has thrown for more than 300 yards in two straight. ... Wyoming was the last of the 125 FBS teams to record an interception this season. ... Senior defensive ends Sonny Puletasi (leg) and Riley Lange (concussion), and senior safety Jesse Sampson (knee) are day-to-day. None of them played last week. ... Five defensive players who were starters at the beginning of the season have been lost due to injury, including three with season-ending injuries. ... With a catch Friday, senior receiver Dominic Rufran can tie the school record with a catch in 47 consecutive games, which is every game of his career. Rufran would share that record with Jovon Bouknight (2002-05), who is the passing game coordinator and receivers coach for Utah State.
— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
When the switch was made, with Zack Greenlee replacing Brian Burrell at quarterback, the expectation was that the redshirt freshman would start the Fresno State Bulldogs’ final four games. But that has changed after Greenlee failed to get much going in a 45-17 loss to Wyoming.
Greenlee and Burrell, coach Tim DeRuyter said, will compete on the practice field before it is determined who will take the first snaps this week against San Jose State.
“We’re going to see who gives us our best chance to beat San Jose State,’’ he said. “We know what Brian can do. Zack had an opportunity. We have to see how he reacts this week in practice. Going through the tape with him, hopefully he’ll see where there were plays he could have made, where he has to make those plays and just see how he progresses from here.’’
Greenlee, making his first career start, completed 7 of 16 passes for 55 yards against Wyoming and produced two scores in eight possessions. The first came on an 8-yard touchdown run by Marteze Waller, after Derron Smith returned a punt to the Cowboys’ 8-yard line. The second came on a 28-yard field goal by Kody Kroening just before halftime, a drive that consumed 86 yards and 12 plays.
With Greenlee in the game, the Bulldogs generated 226 yards on 47 plays (4.8 ypp) and punted six times including three three-and-out series.
And while there were some strong plays and throws in there — Greenlee hit Josh Harper on a nice shot for a 15-yard gain on a third-and-7 in the second quarter, hit Delvon Hardaway for 35 yards on a third-and-9 when backed up at the 3-yard line — it was not enough to make a second start an automatic.
“We anticipated him playing a little bit better,’’ DeRuyter said. “We wanted to play the guy that we thought gives us the best chance going into Wyoming. We thought that was Zack. But he’s got to make progress this week for that to continue.
“We knew going into the game that with a freshman starting there would be some bumps in the road. He did some good things, but clearly he wasn’t as effective as we needed him to be. One of the biggest things he needs to do is keep his eyes down the field and go through his progressions. He threw a couple of deep balls well, made some plays with his feet. But too many times he broke down on a play without going through his progressions.”
Greenlee played into the fourth quarter with the Bulldogs within two scores at 21-10 and was replaced by Burrell after the Cowboys went up 28-10 with 12:14 remaining.
Burrell moved the Bulldogs from their 23-yard line to the Wyoming 49 on his first series, but that drive ended with a punt. His next two passes were intercepted by Tyran Finley. Both turnovers led to scores – a 48-yard touchdown run and a 22-yard field goal.
In nine games and eight starts, Burrell has completed 56.3 percent of his passes (148 of 263) for 1,562 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His passing efficiency rating is 115.63, which ranks seventh among nine qualifiers in the Mountain West and 95th of 100 in the nation.
Next game: vs. San Jose State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday, CBS Sports Network
Notable: Fresno State started a training table on Monday for football as well as its student-athletes in all sports. It had about 160 for the first day of the program, which is mandatory for the football players on scholarship. After giving up 694 yards in a loss to Wyoming, which came in averaging only 343.2 yards per game, the Bulldogs’ defensive coaching staff again has peppered the depth chart with ‘or’ at four positions – Mike linebacker, defensive end, strong safety and cornerback – and are looking to make some personnel changes. The Cowboys had 358 total yards in the first half of that game, more than it had in six of its first eight games. Fresno State had one sack and stopped just two other plays for a loss. Wyoming, which ran 71 plays, had come in allowing 7.1 tackles for loss this season, tied for 10th in the conference. Running back Marteze Waller scored on an 8-yard run on the Bulldogs’ opening possession – the first time this season they had scored the first time they had the ball. Of course, it helped that Derron Smith returned a punt 52 yards to the Wyoming 8-yard line. Those eight yards still were as many as or more than they had in six of their first eight opening drives. Fresno State gained one yard on its opening drive at USC, eight at Utah, lost three yards against Nebraska, gained six yards against Southern Utah, two yards at UNLV and five yards at Boise State.
— Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
The Rainbow Warriors are seeking to end the nation's longest road losing streak when they play Colorado State in Fort Collins this Saturday. The Warriors' last road victory was against Idaho on Oct. 29, 2011, a span of 16 away games. Since then, the Warriors changed head coaches (Greg McMackin to Norm Chow in December 2011) and leagues (WAC to MWC on July 1, 2012).
The Warriors will be back at full strength at running back with the return of Joey Iosefa, a fifth-year senior who entered the season as one of eight co-captains. Iosefa rushed for 197 yards in the first two games before suffering an ankle injury. He did not play in the next four games and was set to return for the Oct. 18 game against San Diego State. But he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on Oct. 12, and was suspended for three games. He has completed his three-game suspension and is free to practice and travel. Steven Lakalaka and Diocemy Saint Juste took the majority of snaps at running back in Iosefa's absence. The Warriors are expected to go to a three-player rotation at running back this week.
Ikaika Woolsey had his best performance this past week, throwing for 356 yards. But that was spoiled by 13 penalties, including a roughing infraction that nullified Scott Harding's punt return for a touchdown.
Next game: at Colorado State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: The Warriors have not won in Fort Collins since 1988. There was a 14-year break in the series after CSU broke away from the WAC to form the MW in 1999. In the past three games, the Warriors have scored one second-half touchdown and a total of 11 second-half points. UH is 3-18 since changing its nickname back to Rainbow Warriors in 2013.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian voiced a little frustration with the lack of national attention quarterback Cody Fajardo received for becoming just the second quarterback in FBS history to surpass 9,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards in a career during Saturday’s 30-14 victory over San Diego State.
Fajardo joined former Wolf Pack teammate Colin Kaepernick (2007-10) as the only quarterbacks in FBS history who have reached that milestone. Fajardo redshirted in 2010.
“It’s rarefied air,” Polian said, referring to Fajardo’s accomplishments. “He’s a special quarterback, and there are a lot of teams that would love to have him, including some SEC teams.”
Fajardo did get some national pub. Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com wrote about him in his weekly installment Monday and spoke to Polian about Fajardo’s future.
“He’s incredibly productive as a thrower and a runner,” Polian told Feldman. “He is absolutely an NFL prospect. His football IQ is very high, and his intangibles are off the charts. He throws it much better than people think, and he will run sub-4.6 (in the 40-yard dash) at the (NFL) combine, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t get an invite. I think the NFL people are starting to catch on. We’ve had 20-24 clubs come in to see him.”
Fajardo had a season-low 113 total yards of offense in the SDSU win and completed just 10-of-24 passes, partly because the Aztecs’ strategy was to not let Fajardo beat them with his legs. Instead, running backs Don Jackson (124 yards) and James Butler (103) led the way.
At his luncheon, Polian said Fajardo didn’t have his best game, but also put some of that on the receiving corps, which Polian said dropped six passes.
“We didn’t help our quarterback,” he said.
Fajardo and the other 14 seniors on the team have one home game remaining, Nov. 22 vs. Fresno State. The Wolf Pack potentially could host the Mountain West Championship game if they win the West Division, but the Mountain Division winner likely will be the higher-ranked team and would host that game on Dec. 6.
Next game: at Air Force, Nov. 15
Notable: Nevada moved into a tie for first place in the MW’s West Division with SDSU (3-2) and became bowl eligible (6-3) with Saturday’s win. San Jose State is tied in the loss column (2-2). The Wolf Pack will be the West’s MW Championship Game representative if they win out. Middle linebacker Jonathan McNeal was named the Mountain West defensive player of the week. The senior had 12 tackles, 1 1/2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, an interception and a pass breakup. Polian said DT Rykeem Yates, who has missed the last two games with a head injury, was cleared to return to practice Monday and will be ready to play against the Falcons. OL Connor Talbott suffered a head injury vs. SDSU. He will be evaluated by the medical staff and will at least miss some practice time.
— Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
In the dissection of the second-half thumping San Diego State took on Saturday night in its 30-14 loss at Nevada, there were plenty of wounds at which to pick.
The Aztecs were outgained 207 yards to 91. They had a critical fumble, a botched handling of a snap, drive-saving and drive-crushing penalties, sacks suffered, a 13-yard punt and defensive gambits that cost them dearly.
It was a lot of ugliness for a team that led 14-10 going into the final quarter of a game that, if won, would have made SDSU the clear favorite to capture the West Division of the Mountain West.
Instead, the Aztecs are 3-2 in the conference and chasing the Nevada team (3-2) that played shakily at times on Saturday.
“We should be a more consistent football team,” Aztecs head coach Rocky Long said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the fourth quarter. There is no definite answer. Some teams get better as they go, and some teams don’t.
“We’re inconsistent. One week we look good, and then other weeks we do the things that we did last night.”
The Aztecs figure to have a better time on Saturday against the Sun Belt Conference’s Idaho, which is 1-7 and has won a total of five games the last four years. But Long doesn’t want to hear about pushovers because he has distinct memories of a defeat the Aztecs took at Moscow, Idaho, in 2009, his first year as SDSU’s defensive coordinator.
“I’m more worried about our reaction to our loss, more so than who we’re playing,” Long said. “It’s us trying to get back to playing good football. We were emotional going into the game and didn’t perform well. That’s a tough thing to get over.”
There were few players on the team who left Reno, Nev., feeling remotely satisfied. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler (one TD, one interception and a critical fumbled snap on third down) and the offense sputtered for long stretches (only five first downs in the second half); running back D.J. Pumphrey lost two fumbles at critical junctures; and though the defense stuffed Nevada QB Cody Fajardo, it gave up two long runs in the last quarter that led to a pair of scores.
“We had good opportunities early on to get us a good-sized lead,” Long said. “The turnovers killed us. I thought we lost the field-position battle. Our punting game was horrible. And I thought the long runs at the end of the game made our defensive performance look average.”
Long, the team’s defensive coordinator, continued to take the blame for the aggressive calls he chose in the last quarter that resulted in a 43-yard TD run and a 47-yarder on the next series that set up Nevada’s final score.
On both runs, SDSU’s linebackers blitzed to try to force quick hits and possible turnovers. On each play, the running backs got through the line, leaving safeties, playing man-to-man, to try to quickly find the runner. That didn’t happen.
“It was probably an overreaction,” Long said. “We probably should have stayed with what was working. We would have got the ball back with less time, but it would have been closer. The defense’s job is to keep the game close to the end, and we didn’t do that.”
Next game: vs. Idaho, 4:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Root Sports
Notable: In his first action of the season after recovering from a neck injury, linebacker Jake Fely was in for 23 plays and tied safety Na’im McGee with a team-best six tackles. “He wasn’t quite sure of himself, but he was moving around fast,” Long said. Receiver Ezell Ruffin, playing for the first time since breaking his collarbone in Week 2, finished with three catches for 21 yards. “He looked rusty running his routes, like he was feeling his way more than normal,” Long said. Long recited a lengthy list of nagging injuries to players, including an aggravation of an ankle sprain for Pumphrey, but he said he didn’t think anyone would miss Saturday’s game.
— Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN JOSE STATE
Just like last year, San Jose State can deliver a damaging blow to Fresno State's bowl possibilities and boost its own resume when the Spartans face the Bulldogs on Saturday.
That's where the similarities end.
A year ago, Fresno State was undefeated with an eye on a BCS bowl berth when it invaded Spartan Stadium. San Jose State delivered a 62-52 upset win to knock the Bulldogs out of BCS consideration and also gain bowl-eligibility for itself.
This time, the Spartans (3-5, 2-2 Mountain West) are clinging onto bowl hopes and need at least three wins in their final four games. Saturday serves a dual purpose as a victory over the rival Bulldogs (3-6, 2-3) would make them ineligible for the postseason.
"A win would be nice to get us back on track," San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said. "We have our issues that we're trying to clean up and to get our program back on track and take the next step. That's really our goal."
This season has the look of a rebuilding one for both teams, especially with them each replacing all-time greats at quarterback.
The Spartans have been slightly more successful in replacing David Fales, now a practice squad player with the Chicago Bears. Junior Joe Gray has recorded three straight 300-yard passing games and is averaging nearly that many yards per contest in his four starts.
But for Fresno State, replacing current Oakland Raiders starter Derek Carr has been much more difficult and the Bulldogs remain unsettled at that position entering their 10th game of the year.
"The quarterback position is so important, as we see," Caragher said. "We lost a tremendous one in David Fales. And Derek Carr, just look at what he's doing with the Raiders, what a great showing he's having for a rookie year. Those are big shoes to fill."
Next game: at Fresno State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday, CBS Sports Network
Notable: TE Billy Freeman, who missed the 38-31 loss to Colorado State on Saturday with a leg injury, likely remains out again this week against Fresno State. He was not listed on the team's depth chart to open the week. ... LB Christian Tago, who had been the team's leading tackler before missing the game against the Rams, has a better chance to return from his shoulder injury. Caragher was hopeful he would practice Tuesday and he's listed as a potential starter against Fresno State. ... San Jose State and Fresno State will play for the Valley Cup, a trophy with a large V and logos of both teams on either side. The trophy was made last year and the Spartans possessed it after their upset victory, although for undisclosed reasons it was not part of an on-field presentation that's expected this year.
— Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury News
UNLV doesn't have to wait long to face the triple-option offense again.
The Rebels host Air Force on Saturday, just a week after losing to New Mexico 31-28.
Air Force passes a lot more than the Lobos, so the Rebels know they can't focus on just stopping one part of the attack.
"Historically with Air Force, they've been doing it for so long, they know how people defend them," coach Bobby Hauck said Monday. "They prod you with their triple stuff, and then they know how to attack you with their blocking scheme, and they know which counters and throwing game are best off it. So when you look at their throwing game, year in, year out, their average yards per completion is huge because they get you.
"You've got to keep track of everybody, and they've got the ability to hurt you in a lot of ways."
Most of the Rebels are familiar with this offense, but not everyone.
Some newcomers such as senior transfer defensive linemen Brandon Willis (UCLA) and Josh Shirley (Washington) hadn't faced it until going against New Mexico.
As for the returning players, they have shown they can properly defend the triple option. UNLV has beaten the Falcons the past two years, including in the snow last season at Air Force to clinch bowl eligibility.
"Some familiarity is good, certainly," Hauck said. "If you were to play these option-based teams and had never seen that stuff before, it would be difficult, really difficult."
Next game: vs. Air Force, 2 p.m. MT Saturday, Mountain West Network (online)
Notable: Wide receiver Devonte Boyd has tied the UNLV freshman record with three 100-yard games, previously set by Ryan Wolfe in 2006 and Carlos Baker in 1995. Boyd also is within striking distance of Wolfe's school freshman records of 55 catches for 911 yards, standing 12 receptions and 242 yards from breaking them. ... UNLV looks for its first three-game winning streak over Air Force, which leads the series 13-6. ... Air Force and Nevada are the only teams the Rebels have played each of the past 18 years, but this is UNLV's last game against the Falcons until 2017 because of Mountain West divisional scheduling.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal